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Cecile Corral

Rug suppliers see renewed opportunities

Filling all niches

Filling the gap, carving a new niche and covering all the bases was what rug suppliers sought to accomplish this time around at the International Area Rug Show here last week.

"This market is not a banner one, but it has been better than last July," said Ed Vairo, director of creative marketing, Saddle Brook, NJ-based Nourison. "The economy is performing better, consumer confidence is getting higher, retailers are looking forward to a reasonably good fall [season], and our job is to make sure we give people a reason to buy."

The Great Indoors, based in Hoffman Estates, IL, is already seeing rug sales pick up, said Anne Poglitsch, buyer, soft flooring.

"For the third quarter, price points are going to be very important, whether for hand-tufted or machine-made rugs," she told HTT. "Our customer wants quality in casual, homey looks at that right price — $299 to $399. Rich's/Lazarus/Goldsmith's, based here, expects the third and fourth quarters to be at least on an even keel with last year's same period, maybe even slightly ahead, said Keith Arlinghaus, floor covering buyer.

"We'll be offering many special promotions that we didn't have last year," Arlinghaus said. "I'm here looking for casual transitional looks, anything that isn't traditional in style, because that's where we are seeing the biggest growth in furniture."

Similarly, Walter Moomjy of Pine Brook, NJ-based Einstein Moomjy, said traditional styles won't be the ticket this fall and winter.

"We've seen it all and done it all already in traditionals," Moomjy said. "We expect the third and fourth quarters to be better than our second quarter, which was not very exciting. So to help motivate sales, we are looking for more contemporary looks and modern florals, like the ones we've seen this time at Capel."

Encouraged by this and other positive retailer response, suppliers made their individual marks. For some, this meant adding new constructions. For others, it was about smarter price points. And still for others the way to go was with new sizes, especially smaller accent and scatter varieties, or new shapes, particularly rounds.

For Couristan and Mohawk, new constructions in polypropylene and nylon, respectively, created brand new price brackets. Fort Lee, NJ-based Couristan's new Everest Collection, made of heat-set polypropylene and power-loomed in Belgium of a 1250 D-Tex yarn in a one-million-point-per-square-meter construction, represents a new affordable price point of $469 for a 6' x 9' rug. And Mohawk's new nylon construction has taken it to a new high of $399 — a considerable upswing from the Sugar Valley, GA-based company's most expensive machine-made rug that previously reached $299.

Also reaching an all-time high in price points are PHI, Milliken and Orian, the latter with its six-month-old Calypso line of 1.5-million point 100 percent polypropylene rugs. For that, the Anderson, SC-based company just added its Shakespeare Collection, which reaches $399 for a 6' x 9'.

In Milliken's case, the LaGrange, GA-based company added its new nylon construction under the Dura Soft brand to fill that middle price point of $199 to $299 it previously lacked.

And for PHI, handmade strip wool accent rugs are a new construction that the company is able to sell for $100 — a $20 notch up its average handmade hook from China.

If area rugs in rounds, squares and octagons were just taking shape last January, this summer they fit right in.

Dalton, GA-based Balta U.S. and Greensboro, NC-based Carpet Art Deco have for the first time added round rugs to their offering — 8-foot and 6-foot sizes.

Another trend at the show that complemented this event's merging with the gift show, was the push for accent sizes by many players — Dallas-based Feizy, which added handmade hooks from India in whimsical and juvenile looks; Dalton, GA-based Sphinx in several existing constructions used in its area rug offerings; Dalton, GA-based OWA, which launched six new accent-size collections in a variety of constructions; and Norcross, GA-based Trade Am, which added the new popcorn chenille weave construction to its casual accent offerings.

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